The goal of Cornell's Wingman 101 is to engage Cornell men in a pro-social bystander approach to prevent sexual violence.
The 75 minute program, conceptualized in Spring 2007, is centered on an interactive discussion, facilitated by trained male students, during which men:
- explore college risk issues
- consider interventions that may create a healthier climate on campus and reduce the likelihood of sexual assault.
It calls for a wider community approach to sexual violence prevention.
There is a general agreement that sexual assault prevention is least effective when it is information-focused and most effective when men have a chance to talk openly and honestly in all-male groups. Effective violence prevention programs have the following in common:
- men assume responsibility for preventing violence against women.
- men are involved in the prevention program as committed practitioners rather than as potential perpetrators.
- programs should be conducted by peers in all-male small group settings.
- discussion should be interactive and promote positive anti-violence values including helping men understand their role in preventing violence by other men (Berkowitz, 2004).
With this guidance, the theoretical framework of a prosocial bystander model has recently been applied to sexual assault prevention. It is one of the few approaches that show promise in preventing potential sexual violence (Banyard, Plante & Moynihan, 2005).
The pro-social bystander approach
Bystanders are individuals who witness events or situations that could lead to dangerous or criminal events and, by their presence, may have the opportunity to change the outcome. They may elect to do nothing, to contribute to the negative event, or—more importantly—to provide assistance and intervention. The pro-social bystander model calls for prevention efforts that take a wider community approach in which an individual’s behaviors as a bystander intervene in ways that impact the outcome positively.
Research suggests that a community-focused solution may do more to prevent sexual violence than an individual-based approach. There may be an opportunity to change broader community norms around sexual violence by:
- increasing students’ awareness of risky behaviors such as alcohol abuse, physical aggression, adherence to traditional gendered roles and behaviors, etc.
- helping students to identify those behaviors
- encouraging students to take responsibility and intervene during high-risk situations
Although most men do not sexually assault women, men are often potential bystanders or witnesses to behaviors related to sexual violence. By increasing men’s awareness of risky-behaviors and helping them to identify those behaviors, while encouraging them to take responsibility to intervene during high-risk situations, there may be the opportunity to change broader community norms around sexual violence.
Based on an ecological model of community social change, Wingman 101:
- teaches men to recognize potentially risky situations
- offers discussion opportunities on whether it is their responsibility to act
- helps identify the obstacles that keep men from intervening
- considers intervention skills so men may feel more comfortable intervening in situations that may precipitate sexual violence.
The pro-social bystander approach can be effective by providing men an opportunity to learn from each other, examine how they make decisions in high-risk situations (e.g., alcohol use, social interactions, dating, etc.) and understand that they have a direct stake in sexual violence prevention.
Wingman was first initiated in 2008 as a pilot program. It is now a popular and effective program with male athletic teams, fraternities, and men living in first-year residence halls. In 2010, a similar program for women was initiated to address the same fundamental concerns about intervening when a situation appears risky.
The popular media campaign that complements Wingman 101, initiated in Spring 2010, can be found on bulletin boards across campus.
Request a program
Contact Wingman 101 to request a program.
Cornell's Wingman 101 is based on the University of New Hampshire’s “Bringing in the Bystander Program” developed by Dr. Victoria Banyard.
Berkowitz, A. (2004). Working with men to prevent violence against women: An overview (Part one). Applied Research Forum, National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. October.
Banyard, V., Plante, E. & Moynihan, M. (2005). Rape prevention through bystander education: Bringing a broader community perspective to sexual violence prevention. U.S. Department of Justice Report. February.
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Wingmen in the news
Wingman 101 Shifts Violence Discussion (Cornell Chronicle, Jan 20, 2015)
Wingman 101 posters
A series of four posters has been developed.
Don't be a dumb cluck.
Cock-a-doodle DO something.
To learn more contact Gannett health initiatives coordinator, Leah Berkenwald